BOSTON -- Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid has been teammates with forward Brad Marchand for more than half a decade dating back to their time with Providence of the American Hockey League.
So McQuaid has witnessed almost everything Marchand has done to go from a fourth-line player as a rookie to one of the premier goal-scorers in the NHL.
Marchand, who set a career high with 37 goals last season, signed an eight-year, $49 million contract Monday worth $6.125 million annually and runs through the 2024-25 season. He could have been an unrestricted free agent after this season, but instead has committed to playing for the Bruins for the foreseeable future.
"Well I've seen him grow up a lot, both on and off the ice. He's become a leader on this team and a guy that he can keep things light, he's a great teammate, a great friend, but also when it's time for playing, getting down to business, he has that side of him as well," McQuaid said after practice at Warrior Ice Arena. "Those are the guys that you want on your team and the guys that you respect. I'm just really happy for him. I know he deserves it. He's worked extremely hard and continues to work hard and he gets better and better, so I think it's well-deserved."
Marchand has recently made his mark on a bigger stage for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He is second to linemate Sidney Crosby with five points in four games and is tied for the tournament lead with three goals. Team Canada will play in the best-of-3 World Cup final against Team Europe starting Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Video: Marchand credits Bergeron, coaching staff for growth
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug has had to deal with Marchand's skills in practice since turning pro out of Michigan State University in 2012.
"I noticed in such a short time, in three years, some of the things he does is absolutely ridiculous on the ice. I've kind of taken a step back in practice to make sure he doesn't make me look like some of the other guys on the other team," Krug said. "But it's really impressive what he does. He's really changed his reputation around the league. Evidence of that is how he's playing this World Cup. I guess all the attention that he's getting up in Canada right now, it's no surprise to us here in Boston and I'm just glad other people are beginning to recognize that."
Marchand's game is built on speed, elusiveness and an accurate, hard shot. But there are other aspects that make him valuable to the Bruins, including his knack for penalty killing and his penchant for getting under opponents' skin. Krug has watched Marchand menace many opponents over the years.
"It's part of his game, it's part of what makes him good," Krug said. "Guys that play on the edge like that, there's a reason they're here and that confidence - I don't want to say arrogance because it has a negative connotation - but that's his swagger, that's what makes him good. He's playing on the edge every single night. And that's what makes him an elite player in this league."
Forward David Backes summed up Marchand by saying, "I can affirm everyone else's thoughts that he is a pain in the butt." But Backes signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent July 1 partly for the opportunity to play with Marchand and the rest of the Bruins' core. When Backes signed he didn't know if Marchand was going to be around beyond this season.
But Backes is pleased Marchand decided to stick around.
"I think he's had the success here, he's won a Cup here, I think he's loved by the Boston fan, he shows that blue-collar mentality that this city is all about. As it was a fit for me, you see it's a fit for a player like that to stay here where he's really embraced," Backes said. "The team steps up in a big way and makes a big commitment to him, he makes a big commitment to the team and it's a partnership that hopefully is going to be long-lasting and it's going to be successful and by the time I'm done here hopefully we get to add a few rings to his fingers."